Sun. a.m. AGCC 6/13/99

#1

"A WAR THAT CAN BE WON"

TEXT: Eph. 6:10-13

INTRO:

Most countries do not go to war unless they believe they can win! No one goes to war unless they also know they have the equipment to fight it. Yet, how many Christians are completely unprepared for spiritual warfare or are unwilling to fight? The fact is that as believers we have been enlisted in a battle against the forces of darkness, it behooves us therefore to recognize the importance of the battle and the proper preparations. Spiritual warfare is a fact, not some fanciful concept, it is real. ILLUS: A friend of my eleven-year-old son called one day, announcing he had a problem with spiritual warfare. I asked him what I could do to help, and he replied he wanted to speak with my son, Scott. Proud that my son was being asked for spiritual advice, I later made a point to ask him how the conversation went. "Oh, fine," Scott replied. "He just needed help getting to the next level of the 'Spiritual Warfare' Nintendo game." -- Chris Johnson, Britt, Minnesota. Christian Reader, "Kids of the Kingdom." Paul was very clear to the Church in Ephesus that they were engaged in a battle, and that there was a proper way to prepare for it. We cannot ignore his teaching on this important subject. We will be fighting the spiritual forces of this world all our lives.PROP. SENT: The Bible teaches us that we are to do battle with evil and to properly prepare ourselves to succeed in this battle. God provides the equipment, but we must willingly put it on and engage ourselves in the fight.

I. THE STRENGTH 6:10

A. Source 6:10a 1. Paul's statement "be strong IN the Lord" teaches two important truths about spiritual warfare: a. "be strong" - in the Greek it is a passive tense meaning "BE MADE STRONG" - meaning we don't have our own strength to do this battle, we must be given it IN Christ. (1. God does not expect us to use our own strength to fight Satan and his forces! (2. We don't have adequate strength in ourselves to fight the enemy! b. "IN the Lord" - in the Greek this too indicates that our strength does not come BY Christ, but IN Christ! (1. Our strength is not through some kind of personal exercise, it is found in our relationship IN Christ. (2. It is this relationship in Christ that makes possible the strength to fight evil. 2. Evil will flourish if there are no Christians! a. Hence the reasons for the great tribulation being so terrible one day, the Church will have been raptured and evil will find its fullest expression. b. The hope of a just society does not lay in politics, education, wealth, technology, it rests on righteous people! ILLUS: The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. - Edmund Burke (1729-1797) 3. Much of God's power to work in this world comes through His body, the Church. a. Hence our role in the world is far more important than what this world would like to have you believe! b. We must never take lightly our role in an evil world. 4. Paul wrote these words as a prisoner chained to a Roman soldier every day, yet he spoke of power to fight! 5. Paul was not weak as a chained prisoner, he had power IN Christ. a. And so do we, no matter the circumstances of this life, IN Christ we have great power! b. We must use that power responsibly to do spiritual warfare. B. Secret 6:10b 1. Satan is a loser! a. Though he attacks this world and even Christ's Church he will fail in the end, for the secret to spiritual warfare is NOT our strength, but "God's mighty power!" b. Satan likes to shoot for us, but he has aimed at the wrong source, for when we fight it is God's mighty power in us that does the fighting and Satan cannot defeat the Lord! ILLUS: Aqaba in 1917 seemed impregnable. Any enemy vessel approaching the port would have to face the battery of huge naval guns above the town. Behind Aqaba in every direction lay barren, waterless, inhospitable desert. To the east lay the deadly "anvil of the sun." The Turks believed Aqaba to be safe from any attack. But they were wrong. Lawrence of Arabia led a force of irregular Arab cavalry across the "anvil of the sun." Together, they rallied support among the local people. On July 6, 1917, the Arab forces swept into Aqaba from the north, from the blind side. A climactic moment of the magnificent film Lawrence of Arabia is the long, panning shot of the Arabs on their camels and horses, with Lawrence at their head, galloping past the gigantic naval guns that are completely powerless to stop them. The guns were facing in the wrong direction. Aqaba fell, and the Turkish hold on Palestine was broken, to be replaced by the British mandate and eventually by the State of Israel. The Turks failed to defend Aqaba because they made two mistakes. They did not know their enemy, and they did not have the right weapons. We must be careful not to make the same mistakes. Ephesians 6:12 makes it very clear who our enemy is: "Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world." -- Michael Boyland in Fresh Illustrations for Preaching & Teaching (Baker), from the editors of Leadership. 2. Our encouragement in doing spiritual battle is found in the power and presence of Christ in us. 3. This is the secret to success in waging war, God cannot fail, so neither can we if we trust in Him and fight obediently with His provisions. II. THE STAND 6:11 A. Solid 6:11a 1. No soldier would wage war improperly attired! a. We do not send our troops into battle without proper equipment and proper clothing. b. Paul encourages believers to put on "FULL armor", not partial! 2. Too many Christians struggle in spiritual warfare because they are only partially equipped, in the next several weeks we will explore the meaning of each piece of equipment and demonstrate why each piece must be worn to be victorious in battle. 3. A fully decked out Roman soldier was an awesome sight, and feared by their enemies. a. Full armor meant a soldier that was nearly invincible in battle. b. No solider in his right mind would attempt a major battle without full armor. c. Yet, there are too many Christians that neglect putting on the full armor of God when they do spiritual battle, that is a formula for defeat or injury. 4. Only Christ can equip you to fight there is nothing else in the world that will make a person successful against Satan, trust in anything else and you will be doomed to failure! ILLUS: D. L. Moody, the great American evangelist, once said, "If a man is stealing nuts and bolts from a railway track, and, in order to change him, you send him to college, at the end of his education, he will steal the whole railway track." -- Ravi Zacharias, "The Lostness of Humankind," Preaching Today, Tape No. 118. 5. The term, "Put on" that Paul uses implies responsibility on our part. a. While our real strength comes from God, our responsibility to properly dress for battle rests on us. b. We must be actively seeking to properly dress ourselves for battle, failure to do this will leave us vulnerable and likely wounded or killed in battle! B. Schemes 6:11b 1. One reason we must act responsibly is that Satan acts with great schemes to destroy us. a. He fights dirty, so proper attire is our best safeguard. b. All the equipment God gives us will do the necessary job of protecting us, but only if we put it ALL on. 2. Too many Christians think that just getting saved is all they need to live the Christian life, that is only the beginning! ILLUS: When I was converted, I made this mistake: I thought the battle was already mine, the victory already won, the crown already in my grasp. I thought the old things had passed away, that all things had become new, and that my old corrupt nature, the old life, was gone. But I found out, after serving Christ for a few months, that conversion was only like enlisting in the army--that there was a battle on hand. -- D. L. Moody, Leadership, Vol. 3, no. 3. 3. A soldier learns how the enemy works so he is not fooled by him. 4. The Christian life is a serious endeavor. III. THE STRUGGLE 6:12-13 A. Spiritual 6:12 1. Paul states outright here that our battle is not fought on the level of "flesh and blood", we are soldiers in a different kind of war, a spiritual war. a. That is why we must understand that our weapons and armor is not material in nature, they supernatural in nature. b. We cannot beat the devil with the things of this world! (1. we will not win the spiritual war with politics. (2. we will not win the spiritual battles with higher education. (3. it will take spiritual things to fight spiritual powers. (4. it will take more than wealth. (5. it will take more than technology. 2. We cannot think for a minute that everything around us is peaceful, there is a constant battle waging. 3. As God's people we need to be ready and willing to fight at every turn, to work together to fight the enemy of our souls. ILLUS: During Operation Desert Storm, the Iraqi war machine was overwhelmed by the Coalition Forces' ability to strike strategic targets with never-seen-before accuracy. Unknown to the Iraqis, the Allied Supreme Command had dropped Special Operations Forces (SOF) deep behind enemy lines. These men provided bombing coordinates for military targets and first-hand reports on the effectiveness of subsequent bombing missions. To avoid unintended targets, pinpoint bombing was often required. A soldier from a SOF unit standing on the ground would request an aircraft high overhead to drop a laser-guided missile. Using a hand-held laser, the soldier would point at the target. The missile would hone in on the soldier's target for the hit. In much the same way, the prayers of Christians focus the attention of the spiritual powers on high. -- Steve Schertzinger in Fresh Illustrations for Preaching & Teaching (Baker), from the editors of Leadership. 4. Sometimes we as Christians think the natural abilities of this world will help us defeat evil and sin, such things as education, politics, reason, and even the appeal to the better side of humanity, but these things are not strong enough weapons or armor to defeat Satan and his powers. a. We will need more powerful weapons than just reason, education, wealth, politics, etc. b. Our weapons are not carnal ones, they are spiritual ones. 5. Satan laughs at man's attempts to beat him using the wisdom and powers of this world, but he trembles when God's people come marching against him with the presence and power of Christ! B. Standing! 6:13 1. Paul concludes his introduction here by saying, "therefore" - in light of the fact that we must fight a spiritual battle with spiritual things here is what we are suppose to "put on" and fight with! a. Repeating again what he said earlier, "put on the WHOLE armor of God." b. It would be a tragic mistake to leave any piece of equipment off! 2. Satan fears nothing from all the religions of this world and all the religious people or secular people of this world, the only thing he fears is well equipped Christians! ILLUS: When a Moslem makes a religious pilgrimage to Mecca, he kisses the Black Stone (the stone that came down from heaven), drinks from the well of Hagar, and throws stones at the three pillars that represent Satan. No doubt Satan is more amused than offended. Certainly he is not wounded. If we want to do battle with evil, we will have to do more than throw stones at pillars. We will have to live holier lives and help others to do the same. -- Robert C. Shannon, 1000 Windows, (Cincinnati, Ohio: Standard Publishing Company, 1997). 3. Paul remembers a simple fact, the winner of any war is the side that has anyone left standing and so he gives his final admonition to them here before describing each piece of equipment and what each piece means, he simply says, "and after you have done everything, TO STAND!" a. We don't have to run ahead of God, nor lag behind, just STAND our ground! b. Roman soldiers stood their ground to show they were unmovable and the battle and battlefield was theirs! 4. Remember Paul said that they must put on the WHOLE armor of God in order to STAND their ground. a. There can be no partial commitment in spiritual warfare, it must be total. b. Anytime we try to win a war by a partial commitment we fail this was the message America learned in Vietnam, we tried to have our soldiers fight in limited ways and it made it almost impossible to win against an enemy that was totally committed. 5. How well prepared are you to wage spiritual war? CONCLUSION: The winners in any war are the last ones standing! If we are properly attired with spiritual equipment we need not fear spiritual warfare. God has made available everything we need to be victorious in any battle, but we do need to put these things on! Are you ready for battle?